Each year, tennis tournaments like the Australian Open bring up countless questions, such as:
Are the grunts necessary?
How do I become friends with Jelena Dokic?
But perhaps most curiously: What’s the deal with the ball boys/girls?
Who are they? What do they do? What are their secrets? What kind of experiences do ball kids have on the court? What are their interactions with the players like?
We spoke to a former ball boy, Jake*, who told us exactly what it’s like to pick up and throw some of the world’s most famous tennis balls.
Are you paid?
According to Jake, who's now a lawyer in his 20s, he wasn’t paid for his role as a ball boy in the early 2000’s.
"The perk was we got to keep the Adidas clothes we had to wear on the court," he explained. "They included flap caps which weren’t (and still aren’t) particularly cool so it wasn’t much of a perk."
Oh… I’m sure flap caps from a major tennis tournament make for very cool attire to wear out on the weekend.
Even now, ball kids aren’t paid, but they get a food allowance as well as free tickets for family and friends. And, yes, they still get to keep their cool on-court gear.